Xbox 360 emulators

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Xbox 360
Xbox 360.png
Developer Microsoft
Type Home video game console
Generation Seventh generation
Release date 2005
Discontinued 2016
Predecessor Xbox
Successor Xbox One (X)
Emulated ~
For other emulators that run on Xbox 360 hardware, see Emulators on Xbox 360.

The Xbox 360 is a seventh-generation console released by Microsoft on November 22, 2005, and retailed for $399. It had a triple-core PowerPC Xenon CPU that ran at 3.2 GHz with 512 MBs of RAM and an ATI Xenos GPU. The console's life saw the option of a motion-sensing camera called the Kinect.

The Xbox 360 had a relatively strong modding scene (although compared to the Xbox it was hindered by the need to physically modify the console) and homebrew documentation of the console's GPU, file format, and various other APIs was performed early. Due to the complexity of the system and PCs of the time lacking the needed performance, emulation was slow to develop for this console compared to previous generations, with Xenia being the only serious option since 2013 and developing steadily since then.

Emulators[edit]

Name Platform(s) Latest Version Hardware features
and peripherals
Enhancements Compatibility FLOSS Active Recommended
PC / x86
Xenia Windows v1.0.2808
canary
canary-netplay
canary-nukernel
~ ~ 18%
304 out of 1638 tested titles
[1]
Mobile / ARM
Xenia Android N/A ? ? N/A ? ~*
DamonXbox360 (呆萌Xbox360模拟器) Android Stolen ✗ (stolen from Xenia)
Consoles
Fission Xbox One Xbox Series X/S Patch based ~ ~ 29%
633 out of 2155 titles
Xenia Xbox Series X/S 1.1.4 ~ ~ 18%
303 out of 1634 tested titles
[1]
~

Comparisons[edit]

Xenia
Xenia is the leading hybrid approach Xbox 360 emulator that's made it the furthest. While it isn't nearly as compatible as RPCS3 is for PlayStation 3, impressive performance outshines RPCS3 due to RPCS3's extremely challenging SPU emulation resulting reasonably higher CPU demands. Another reason for performance difference is Xenia utilizes very high-level emulation (HLE) approach for the CPU, while relying heavily on Low-Level Emulation (LLE) for the GPU[2][3]. Due to these approaches and other reasons/optimizations (see Emulation accuracy page): it's making Xenia more reliant on GPU performance instead of CPU (especially compared to RPCS3). But keep in mind that, it's still depends heavily on CPU single thread performance due to graphics API-related calls and focusing solely average CPU utilization percentage numbers may give you false impression[1]. So in summary: just like most other software emulators, CPU's with better single threaded performance will give you better framerates than before (considering you're not hitting GPU bottleneck)[2]. Xenia supports various enhancements and some of the hardware features. For emulation on Linux: see this page.
canary builds compared to the master builds offer improved performance (thanks to chrisps/chrispy, disjtqz, Gliniak, AdrianCassar and other contributors), it has experimental changes that may or may not work, but it also has more functions/tends to work better. Also some of the hardware features and enhancements are currently only available in this fork and its branches mentioned below. Use this repository for game-patches which some of them may fix graphical or performance issues.
canary-netplay; see Xbox Live page (Xbox 360 section).
canary-nukernel branch emulates: The six individual hardware threads on the original Xbox 360 CPU, certain kernel timing quirks (clock interrupt update every 1millisecond, "background scheduling"), the kernel's thread scheduler, deferred procedure calls, asynchronous procedure calls (done more accurately than on normal canary, plus kernel ones are supported), much more accurate and portable emulation of synchronization primitives, supports guest objects without creating host objects for them. So certain games that do not work on normal canary can be played on this branch, because the features/quirks they expect are implemented here, but nukernel branch mostly focuses on reimplementing parts of the threading subsystem of the kernel, not io or memory, which are also messed up. Developer of this branch said that: "It really felt like starting from scratch on the kernel side, because for a long time nothing booted on it".[3]
Fission
The official emulator on the Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S consoles. There is no "Xbox Live Indie Game & XBLIG" support. Load times are faster, but emulation suffers from input lag due to forced v-sync. Beyond this, Fission supports some of the hardware features.
Xbox One X and Xbox Series X further improve on the emulation with enhancements like better framerate, texture filtering, higher resolution and auto HDR in some games. Note that an Internet connection is required to download each game on its first run.
However, with an November 2021 update Microsoft ended the program and said: "This latest and final addition of 70+ titles to the backwards compatibility program was only possible through the passion and feedback from the community," Microsoft said. "Your constant requests for specific titles and enhancements encouraged the Backwards Compatibility team to partner with the original creators to preserve thousands of games from over four generations of Xbox. While we continue to stay focused on preserving and enhancing the art form of games, we have reached the limit of our ability to bring new games to the catalog from the past due to licensing, legal and technical constraints. Thank you for being part of this journey with us."[4]

Hardware features and peripherals[edit]

Name xenia Fission
Xbox 360 system software Dashboard and apps ~
TrueSkill ?
Achievements ~*
Xbox Live ~
System Link * [N2 1]
DVD Drive ~
Xbox Emulation (Fusion) * ~*
Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA) *
Xbox Live Indie Games (XBLIG)
Peripherals
Kinect [N2 2]
HD-DVD Player ~
Xbox 360 Memory Card *
Portal Skylanders Portal TBD
LEGO Dimensions Toy Pad TBD
Disney Infinity Base TBD
Rock Band 3 MIDI Pro Adapter TBD
Microphone * [N2 2]
Drums and Guitars [N2 2]
Big Button Pad TBD
LightGun Top Shot Elite TBD
Top Shot Fearmaster TBD
uDraw GameTablet ~* *
  1. Xbox 360 System Link compatible games for Xbox One
    Xbox 360 System Link compatible games for Xbox Series S/X
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Games like the original Guitar Hero and Rock Band series won't work as they require proprietary accessories that aren't compatible, nor do any that require the original Kinect motion camera. Even if you have an Xbox One Kinect still, it is not compatible with previous Xbox 360 Kinect games using Fission.

Dashboard and apps[edit]

tcrf: Xbox 360 Dashboard revisional differences
Wikipedia - List of Xbox 360 applications

The Dashboard is a graphical user interface developed for Xbox 360. You can launch various applications from this interface as well. Also supports media streaming (music, photos and videos) with PC using Windows XP MCE with Xbox 360's built-in version 2 Media Center Extender functionality and app. This functionality shouldn't be confused with other standalone Windows Media Center Extender devices or original Xbox Media Center Extender version 1 add-on.

TrueSkill[edit]

TrueSkill python package
Microsoft TrueSkill/TrueSkill 2
Wikipedia - TrueSkill/TrueSkill 2

Achievements[edit]

Xenia-canary latest builds support Xbox 360 achievements but only partially; because there is no support for achievement progress, only achievement unlock notifications works. Demonstration

For activating notifications for achievements and using sound and custom font you need to change settings from "xenia-canary.config.toml";

[UI]
show_achievement_notification = true
custom_font_path = "C:\\Users\\USERNAME\\AppData\\Local\\xenia-canary\\YOURFONTNAME.tff"
[General]
notification_sound_path = "C:\\Users\\USERNAME\\AppData\\Local\\xenia-canary\\YOURSOUNDFILENAME.wav"

DVD Drive[edit]

free60: Xbox 360 DVD Drive
consolemods: XGD3 games

Xbox Live Indie Games (XBLIG)[edit]

List of all Xbox Live Indie Games (XBLIG)

Peripherals[edit]

Kinect[edit]

The Kinect was Microsoft's version of the EyeToy, a camera that also doubled as a motion tracker and microphone capable of detecting gestures and voices in order to play games without a controller. This was in contrast to the Wii with its Wiimote and the PS3 with its PlayStation Move. Despite getting native support on Windows, users have made open-source drivers for it.

Xenia does not currently have any support for the Kinect [5], with development on the feature unlikely to occur in the foreseeable future. [6] [7]

HD-DVD Player[edit]

Wikipedia: Xbox 360 HD-DVD Player
Xbox support: Play DVD-Video and Xbox 360 DVD-ROM on your console
  • Xenia has no HD-DVD support at the moment and as mentioned in the DVD Drive section there is no support for DVD-Video either.
  • Xbox One and Xbox Series consoles has no support for HD-DVD. Although as mentioned in the DVD Drive section: DVD-Video is supported.
See this dedicated page for more information about home media playback support for emulation softwares.

Enhancements[edit]

Name xenia Fission
Graphics Resizable Internal Resolution
Ultrawide hack
Widescreen already supported on Xbox 360 system.
But there is no support by system for render games in other ratios such as ultrawide 21:9 and 32:9.
[N2 1]
Texture Replacement *
Ray-tracing Implementing ray-tracing in an emulator is unfortunately quite challenging and unlikely to be feasible in the near future.
However you can try "Screen-Space Ray Traced Global Illumination" shader using ReShade.
Demonstration
Pre-rendering AA
(MSAA, SSAA)
[N2 2] ?
Super-resolution techniques
(DLSS, XeSS and FSR 2+)
Requires access to the depth buffer and temporal data like motion-vectors so it's quite challenging and unlikely to be feasible in the near future.
Performance Internal Framerate Hack
Frame generation technologies
(LSFG, DLSS-G, ExtraSS and AFMF)
Implementing frame generation technology in an emulator is unfortunately quite challenging and unlikely to be feasible in the near future, however post-processing techniques such as motion interpolation is quite possible. Input latency will be a crucial factor, but its impact likely varies depending on the specific technique employed, it's recommended to use after applying the "Internal Framerate Hack".
While AFMF or LSFG can be used with xenia, please be aware that some visual glitches and artifacts may occur at this time.
Overclock
Preload optical disc image to RAM
For users with sluggish multi-platter HDDs or plagued by horrible seek times, this enhancement might offer smoother experience, potentially reduced power consumption; it also shines when disc images reside on a network drive.
Although keep in mind that preloading image would take some time, and it will require additional amount of RAM capacity.
Post-Processing Post-rendering AA
(FXAA, TXAA and MLAA/SMAA)
* ?
Post-rendering scaling
(Sharp bilinear, Lanczos and FSR 1)
* [N2 3]
Filters
NTSC filters, HDR tonemapping etc.
Shader Chain
TAS features Macros/Scripts/Lua
Rewind
Fast-Forward/Turbo Speed
Savestates/Snapshots
Movie recording/playback
Controls Mouse Injector Compatible *
Input lag-mitigating technique
Quality of life Streamable compression format
Built-in Graphics mod editor/manager
Built-in Cheat Manager
Per-Game Profiles ~[N2 4] ?
Command Line Options ?
Built-in Custom resolution/CRTSwitchRes
For using this on Windows OS you need CRT Emudriver.
Another option is using EDID editor tool such as "Custom Resolution Utility".
Big Picture Mode
Misc RetroAchievements *
Free Look
Free Look is a enhancement feature that allows manipulation of the in-game camera.
While freecam would be technically possible, it will require per-game patches.
Said patches would require a significant amount of time to reverse the game's engine, which means that only someone talented with enough dedication to a single game could do it.
Debug features ~[N2 5]
  1. Only supports official 16:9 widescreen supported titles, no support for 21:9 or 32:9 ultrawide enhancements.
  2. This enhancement feature shouldn't be confused with Xbox 360's native 2x/4x MSAA.
  3. It uses bilinear filtering resulting blurrier image.
  4. Using per-game setting for each game in Xenia requires creating a separate "xenia.config.toml" file for each one and launching them manually through a batch script or command line.
  5. Xenia has debugger but there is no documentation, and it is very difficult to understand how it works. However there is a work-in-progress quick guide section for debugging.

Emulation issues[edit]

[Xenos] was a playground for experiments — it was developed near the end of the Direct3D 9 era, but still before Direct3D 10, and contained many features not standardized or even available at all on the PC, but when they ended up on the PC, the actual implementation could be significantly different; it also included completely unique features. [...] Contrary to a common misconception, the Xbox 360 [isn't] just a “DirectX 9 box”. It essentially contains a [tile-inspired] mobile-like GPU with much more raw power than a comparable mobile GPU. If you compare the registers of the Xenos and the Qualcomm Adreno 200, you can see that most of them are the same, as they are almost the same GPUs — the Adreno 200 was called the AMD Z430 before having been acquired by Qualcomm and was even referred to as the "mini-Xenos"!"
-Triang3l[8]

Despite being one of the most popular seventh gen home console, due to requiring a large number of resources as well as the hardware not being properly documented yet[9], Xbox 360 emulation currently isn't at a point where people can reliably emulate most of the game library. Xenia is making slowly but surely progress on that front, but development has unfortunately lost momentum in recent years, with updates becoming less frequent. That, plus the fact that Microsoft's own implemented official emulation (Fission) of the system through the Xbox One and Series S/X ended with an November 2021 update. So, as mentioned above: while playable titles exists, Xbox 360 software emulation hasn't yet reached a point of something like PlayStation 3 or Wii U emulation, currently remains in its early stages, with limited compatibility and requiring patience/experimentation.

For more information about Xbox 360 system and reverse engineering;

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]